I recall a Parks and Recreation episode when Leslie was trying to help Ben run for office as his helpful, strong-willed, outspoken wife who had political experience. As was typical for the show, there was a surreal moment when an anti-feminist group came to this pie-baking contest that was traditional for the wives of running officials to participate in. Instead of making Leslie, the forward-thinking, 21st century minded female do it, Ben took over the task.

However, present at the contest was this group, this anti-feminist group that was shouting things about how women need to stop oppressing their husbands and Leslie was actually forcing Ben to do things he didn’t want to do.

While you watch this and think, “That’s ridiculous, no one is actually like that,” while at the same time taking into mind that they’re tackling a real life problem, you have events that break the News such as our most recent Nazi breakout into the streets of Virginia.

Here’s a bit of a brain twister for you. My husband is a recovering conspiracy theorist addict. It’s one of his most beloved quirks, and at the same time, not a quirk at all because some of the most relevant concerns he brings to me about our democracy aren’t so far-fetched at all and have had a lasting impact on the way I think about things.

While I’m somewhat of a progressive liberal, my husband leans conservative. Where I tend to wish that Hillary Clinton had been elected, even for the sake of saying that an intelligent female had beaten out a mysoginistic business man for the most important office in our country, he would say that Hillary Clinton is a murderer. I don’t know if that’s true, but anymore, WHAT THE HECK IS ACTUALLY TRUE?!

My point in offering that information is to pose something that my husband has brought to me before. First, that we are all participating in this crazy game where elected officials are playing a role, and the script is written by the highest bidder. The second would be that, and this isn’t actually all that conspiracy-like, there are parts of the opposing political parties that actually stir up strife just to divide the country.

These thoughts make it very difficult for me to articulate blame because I’m ever conscious of how I’m being manipulated to think certain things.

Just a year ago, I was in an office with some conservative women. There was a particular person who was against the BLM marches on overpasses. I love these women, so I won’t say too much about it except that I disagreed that there was anything wrong with it. Our very own MLK Jr. had taken to busy streets to peacefully protest the wrongs and injustices our country was committing.

It was in times like these that one of the women would bring up news articles about how the BLM protesters had gotten violent, or that far left protesters were burning down businesses, and all the while I’m thinking, “I didn’t hear that! How could I not have heard that?”

Well, while that’s a whole different can of worms, my point here isn’t that news media is all bent to suck your brain into its manipulative portal and bend you against your loved ones who think differently than you, it’s that we need to be conscious of the fact that we’re being manipulated. We need to stand on the side of the victims and of justice, and we need to condemn evil, no matter from which political standpoint it comes.

I read two articles just this morning, one about the hit-and-run driver from Charlottesville during the alt-right rally who killed one person and injured 19 others. One article said, “They’ve arrested the driver from Charlottesville, and it’s not who you think!” and the article went on to explain that the driver was a left-leaning democrat who was trying to stir up more hatred against the right by posing as an alt-right angry person. The next article I read was three stories down and it was about the identity of the driver as a military personnel, radical republican.

What’s wrong with this picture, I ask you?

First of all, why are media outlets unveiling the identity of the supposed murderer before the trial and conviction? Second of all, how is it possible that I don’t actually know what’s true because people can publish whatever they choose to manipulate the masses? Third of all, how is it possible that I haven’t seen one article on the identity of the person that was MURDERED?

This isn’t about the driver. It is not about him. This is about the victims of a hit-and-run. This is about the students at UVA who stood up in front of grown men to fight racial intolerance. And you know what, I can’t actually imagine how scared they were. I can’t imagine!

This is about inequity, inequality, oppression, and silence.

You know what else? Don’t detract from the issue by blaming our (admittedly incompetent) POTUS. It’s not about him, either. Because, you know what? I don’t think he cares enough to try and stop this at the source, and I don’t think he understands that at least part of what he stands for or says is being written down in the textbooks of alt-right crazy people who bring guns to a college campus.

This is about us. It’s about sane-minded people looking through the crud. I will not be manipulated. I will not give murderers their day of fame. I will not detract from the purpose of these learning moments by casting out blame for a group of people. I will target this issue at its source.

Systematic Racism. Anti-Semitism. Hatred. Intolerance.

I beg of you to ask questions about what you read. Ask questions about who should be the focus of our news outlets. We need to take back our brains and think for ourselves, throw out our political thinking boxes, and demand that justice is seen from all sides. Stop telling your internet browsers to give you spoon-fed political sow feed. Seek out answers! Seek out answers!

Change starts with you. Change starts with me. Look your black friends in the eyes, look your Muslim community members in the face, look your Jewish, Christian, Republican, Democrat, Hispanic, Latino, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, South African, Ugandan, Puerto Rican friends straight in the eyeballs and understand. Understand.

We are all humans and we have to share this Earth. So let’s figure out how to do it sooner rather than later.